A 127km stretch of road plagued by heavy logging traffic becomes part of Northland's 750km State Highway network today - which could make it easier to improve safety on the stretch.

The New Zealand Transport Agency is the new administrator of the route, which runs from Kaikohe to Marsden Pt providing access between about 50,000ha of production forest and North Port.

NZTA had said the speed limit on the mostly-80km/h and 100km/h route would remain the same for the time being despite those living there asking for change.

But the chairman of the Northland Regional Transport committee, Northland regional councillor John Bain, said councils would listen to resident concerns and advocate on their behalf to the NZTA.


The road was formerly the responsibility of Far North and Whangarei ratepayers and would be dubbed State Highway 15, comprising Te Pua, Mangakahia, Otaika Valley and Loop roads. It then met SH1 for about 20km south before linking up with the existing SH15A out to the port.

Cr Bain said the NZTA would likely have greater capacity to make improvements to SH15, the subject of a recent emergency community meeting where residents clamoured for a speed limit reduction.

"It's a complicated process to have a speed limit reduced," Cr Bain said.

"But there will be some changes in regards to safety and we're in discussions [with NZTA] all the time."

In May, more than 150 Otaika Valley Rd and Mangakahia Rd residents gathered at a meeting after a spate of trucks rolling over in the region, two of which happened on Otaika Valley Rd. They shared stories of what it was like living on the busy logging route, which serviced about 25 per cent of Northland's production forests, citing noise and safety concerns.

Cr Bain said the handover was "extremely good news" and an outcome the councils had lobbied for for years.

The route would be a "boon" to for the region's economic development, he said.

"We want to see the port developed, and we've got people continually asking about putting more industry in there."

The NZTA would now provide all funding for the operation and maintenance of SH15, meaning it now managed about 877km of road in Northland. Northland councils were responsible for about 5800km of local roads.